By Michael Benjamin
Several hours of pulsating calypso music among 10 worthy contestants consummated with Geoffrey ‘Mighty Rebel’ Phillips’ dethroning 2009 Monarch, Lester ‘De Professor’ Charles.
He also carted off the Calypso Monarchy, five hundred and fifty thousand ‘smackaroos’ and a beautiful trophy when the curtain came down on the National Calypso finals at the Banks DIH Thirst Park Ground, Sunday evening last.
‘Rebel’ amassed 374 points, seven more than his closest competitor, ‘Lord Canary.’ Mighty Believer and Lady D both scored 353 points apiece to seal off the third place slot. Defending monarch, ‘The Professor’ called for ‘Divine Intervention’ but obviously chose the wrong spirit to lodge his appeal. He failed to place among the elites.
Indeed, an imposing lineup of tough calypsonians engaged in fierce rivalry, each aspiring to outdo the other. They were judged in several categories including stage presentation and showmanship, lyrics, further broken down into topic, composition and construction. Then there was the melody, also broken down into originality, melodic structure and musical form. For ‘rendition,’ the artistes were judged for diction and intonation.
The competitors started their journey for the monarchy with the stage presentations and climaxed with several soul-searching renditions. Some provided thought-provoking social pieces.
The master of ceremonies, Basil Bradshaw, further lightened the atmosphere with his witty recitations that had the large crowd erupting in peals of laughter. Even a sudden downpour halfway into the competition failed to dampen the spirits of the crowd.
Many revelers huddled under a big tent constructed to the southern part of the ground, to patiently wait out the heavy downpour. Others found refuge under upturned chairs while still others sprinted under a bushy tree to the west of the ground. The renditions were so gripping that no one wanted to leave the venue.
Up to that point, several calypsonians had completed their pieces starting with veteran Malcolm Corrica aka ‘Lord Canary.’ He poked fun at the administrators of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), voicing his disgust with the dismal state of affairs. “Dey say dey playing under stress that’s why we having no success,” sang ‘The Canary’ to appreciative applause from the large crowd.
Next up was Karen Bennett (Queen Makeba). She advised the women living in abused situations to ‘Put two wheels on your heels.’ Despite the topical nature of her piece, the crowd was apparently not impressed and she received lukewarm applause.
Several other artistes trooped onstage, had their say and left, most of them to polite applause. There was Dereck Mangal (Bright Colours) with ‘Is People,’ Hilroy Fraser belted out ‘Guyana De Eldorado,’ and the ‘Mighty Voter strummed up ‘Torture.’ The large crowd sensed that the first half was merely the icing on a well baked cake.
The rains then temporarily halted the proceedings.
When the rains had subsided, ‘King Pirai’ admonished the audience to have ‘one woman; one heart.’ His commentary was a stern warning to loose men and women who played around.
Looking dapper in his three-piece suit and hooked to his bride, ‘King Pirai’ recited his amorous days, warning all that were interested to desist from such behaviour. The crowd loved the tune but it seemed as though they were interested in more jaunty stuff. They wanted the ‘Mighty Rebel.’
In the past, Rebel had injected the potion that set their adrenalin flowing and their waists gyrating.
His entrance on this occasion was gripping, his piece, captivating. ‘All ah we know de man,’ he assured before belting out his lyrics. His supporters were soon deeply involved. “Things I hear in the news; got me so confused; what a shame, shame, shame in this country; boys and child molesters in the hierarchy.”
Ras Marcus’s ‘Money growing on trees’ was certainly not a bad piece but the view of the revelers was that it was uncharacteristic. They expected more bite from a man that had stolen their hearts in the past with controversial pieces like ‘Vote Fuh Cup.’
Apparently, the judges also expected more and their eventual choices underlined this fact.
The crowd seemed to rue the moment when the esteemed panel of judges retired to evaluate the various performances and come up with a winner. They probably were considering a painstaking wait devoid of entertainment.
They were stunned into submission when junior calypso queen Tennicia DeFreitas appeared on stage to deliver her winning piece at that competition, ‘Mamma I don’t want to be born.’ It was a truly pulsating moment that had the crowd rocking to the strains. And then the icing on the giant cake came in the form of none other than ‘Crazy,’ a mean calypsonian out of Trinidad and Tobago. He dished out his well known and loved piece, ‘In time to come.’
This was the song where ‘Crazy’ had predicted that America would get a black president among other outrageous predictions. The crowd loved it and responded vociferously. When ‘Crazy’ left the stage, they were not yet sated and called for an encore.
He obliged with a jaunty piece ‘Fuh Carnival.’ When ‘Crazy’ finally left the stage, the crowd was satisfied and on everyone’s lips were the lyrics of ‘Fuh Carnival.’
It was a truly fitting culmination to an engrossing session of captivating calypso that started Sunday night and ended early Monday morning.
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